World Cup 2014 Expert Interview: Can Brazil cope with the pressure?

As part of our World Cup coverage, we have interviewed journalists, correspondents, experts & writers representing each of the 32 countries to give you, the readers, a better understanding of the 32 nations participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Here are the list of interviewees.

Brazil World Cup Interview

For this interview, focusing on Brazil, we have interviewed Paulo Freitas, Sky Sports correspondent and Football Manager Head Researcher, and writer for Just Football. You can find Freitas on Twitter @Cynegeticus

Is there added pressure as the home nation, and a poor 2010 campaign, for Brazil to perform at this tournament? What effect will potential pressure have on the players, and among the supporters?

Yes, the pressure is huge, even bigger than usual as Brazil have never won at home. Most people though do not remember 1950 well as it happened before their time and Brazil won several times since then.

The pressure is bigger on the players as they know Brazilian fans are very volatile, if Brazil struggle, there is a big risk Brazilian fans turn against the team. A defeat might also increase even more the distance between Brazilian fans and the national team, a distance that has been increasing since Brazil’s national team became mainly foreign-based and stopped playing games in Brazil in a regular basis.

The past few months have been marred by wide-scale protests in Brazil as the country hosts two big tournaments in quick succession, which can have a detrimental effect on both social & economic conditions. But what is the general atmosphere among the citizens & supporters regarding the tournament?

The feeling is mixed, many people are happy that so many stars will play here, which seldom happens nowadays, but at the same time many feel the World Cup will be an embarrassment for the country and that the tournament should not be regarded as a priority.

Luiz Felipe Scolari has an excellent track record at International level. What can we expect from him in terms of tactics and is he capable of leading Brazil to the World Cup trophy, again?

Scolari will have Brazil play in a sort of 4-2-3-1, with attacking fullbacks, a technically good midfield and having Neymar as the player to carry the team. The squad are young and lack World Cup experience, but at the same time the squad are very solid, with decent players in all positions, despite the lack of stars.

MORE READING | Analysing Brazil’s tactical approach & set-up at the 2014 World Cup

Brazil will not play a very attacking game, especially not against top teams and instead should be fairly pragmatic, although less so than Dunga’s Brazil used to be.

A generally strong squad from Brazil but the surprise exclusions, above all, were Atletico Madrid’s Miranda & Filipe Luis who has had an incredible season. Do you think it was fair to not take them in the squad? What could be Scolari’s thinking behind it?

It was fair in a way because they had their chances before and did not shine, but it might have also been a mistake not to give them more chances, especially because the previous chances happened past season, when both were not shining as much as they have done in the current campaign.

Scolari is very loyal to his players and more than calling up the best players based on form, he likes his teams to have a strong unity and thus he has to reward those who do well and disregard those who did not do as well, even if they have talent.

2014 FIFA World Cup Group A

Neymar is the youngest man upfront that Brazil are pinning their hopes on in recent World Cups. Despite his experience & maturity, can he handle the pressure of leading the host nation?

Despite his success at Santos and during the Confederations Cup, Neymar has never experienced anything like the pressure he will have to deal with in the World Cup. I believe the lack of experienced players in the squad will harm him as he will not have any experienced players to help him through the tournament, both mentally & tactically. So there is a good chance he will struggle, especially in latter rounds when the pressure increases more and Brazil have to face better opponents.

We at Outside of the Boot track the progress of youngsters under our #TalentRadar feature. Neymar, Oscar & Bernard qualify under this, we’ve spoken on Neymar, but what impact could the latter two have on Brazil’s World Cup campaign?

Oscar, as the starting attacking midfielder, will no doubt be a key player and along with Thiago Silva, Neymar, Fred and the fullbacks, he is part of the team’s backbone, the kind of player that is essentially irreplaceable. If Brazil are to succeed, Brazil will need him.

Bernard, on the other hand, is just a reserve player and should not play too often. He will be useful during the second half of some matches, but we should not expect him to have a big influence in the outcome of Brazil’s campaign.

What can a realistic objective for Brazil be at the World Cup and if you were to stick your neck out, what prediction would you make?

I think Brazil should expect to reach the semifinals at least. The squad, although balanced and solid, lack experience compared to the likes of Argentina, Germany and Spain, and thus might struggle in latter rounds.

Despite that, as Brazil will play at home and have a manager that knows the tournament well, the Seleção can dream of winning the title, but this generation will most likely peak only around 2018 and thus it will not be an embarrassment in my opinion if Brazil do not win the title at this time.

Read all our World Cup Interviews here, and all other WC2014 related content here.